On May 1st, the Trump administration joined Republican-led states, including North Dakota, in asking a federal appeals court to entirely overturn the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid Expansion, gone. Payments for low-income individuals, gone. Federal protections for preexisting conditions, gone. North Dakota’s Legislature, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and federal delegation have failed to live up to their word and do their part.
Yes, North Dakota politicians are threatening insurance protections for preexisting conditions. Senator Kevin Cramer spent six years voting against it. Cramer joined Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, Lt. Governor Brent Sanford representing Doug Burgum, and Congressional Candidate Kelly Armstrong at a “Set the Record Straight” press conference last year. The press conference was riddled with lies about their records, intentions, and ultimately what would happen if this lawsuit was successful. Stenehjem still hasn’t told the public who “asked” him to join this lawsuit in our name.
Their spin was ultimately that North Dakota can do a better job protecting people with preexisting conditions. I wrote during the 2018 campaign, “There is no guarantee the State of North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner who backs the lawsuit, the Governor who backs the lawsuit, nor the Legislature would work to reinstate protections once they’re thrown out.” They had a chance in the 2019 legislative session and they failed to do their part.
An amendment was offered by Democrat Rep. Rick Holman and accepted in the Insurance Departments budget late in the session. It caught many people off guard. That amendment would have put protections for preexisting conditions in state law should ACA be overturned. After some nervous chatter from the Insurance Commissioner and angry Republicans including Rep. Rick Becker on the House floor, the protections were stripped out and turned into a “study.” We call that “death by study” in North Dakota. Politicians too cowardly to vote no on something popular, so they’ll turn the popular proposal into a study. Maybe they select the study in the interim, maybe they don’t. Ultimately, they hope the public will forget about the fact they refused to protect people with preexisting conditions in North Dakota.
Do not buy the claim they will protect these popular and necessary provisions when it comes to your healthcare. They have proved their word is no good by their actions. They had their opportunity and they refused to do what they claimed they wanted. North Dakota’s Legislature, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and federal delegation have failed to live up to their word and do their part.